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An angioplasty is a medical procedure
that opens up blocked or narrowed blood vessels with minimally invasive
surgery. A specially trained doctor, known as an Interventional
Radiologist, performs this procedure in the radiology department.
During the procedure, the Interventional Radiologist places a catheter
(a small tube) into your blocked or narrowed artery. There is a balloon
on the end of the catheter. When the balloon is in the area of the
blockage, the doctor inflates the balloon. Inflating the balloon
stretches out the artery, improving blood flow through the area. The
Interventional Radiologist uses x-rays and contrast (x-ray dye) to help
guide the catheter into exactly the right place for the
WHY DO I NEED
The most common reason for an angioplasty
is to relieve a blockage of an artery. This blockage is usually caused
by atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Atherosclerosis occurs
gradually as fat and cholesterol build up on the insides of your
arteries. Plaque can partially or completely obstruct the blood flow.
Other causes of artery blockage, such as fibromuscular dysplasia,
arteritis, or a blood clot.
Arteries are tubes which carry blood and
oxygen to all the tissues of your body. When an artery becomes narrowed
or blocked, the tissues to which that artery goes do does not get
enough oxygen. The symptoms you feel depend on which artery is blocked.
For example, a blocked artery in the legs may cause pain when you walk
or even when you are resting in bed. A blocked artery to a kidney may
cause high blood pressure. A blocked artery to the intestines can cause
pain in your stomach when you eat.
Some blockages are best treated with
surgery and some are best treated with angioplasty, and some with a
combination of angioplasty and surgery.
Thank you for choosing the University of
Virginia Health System.
We welcome the opportunity to serve you.